The preschool where I work doesn't have classes on Friday. Today, though, they opened the doors again for staff CPR, First Aid, and AED (automated external defibrillator) training. The school is getting an AED machine, but the life-saving tool doesn't do much good if people don't know how to use it!
A portion of the staff gets trained each year, so some of the people there were actually being recertified in first aid and CPR, but all of us were novices at AED use. The atmosphere in the building was more festive without any students around, and I got to talk to a few women I usually don't cross paths with. After everyone assembled, the class started. Our instructor was great; she seemed to really want us to learn the material, and asked everyone exactly what they taught so she could tailor her presentation to our specific population.
We started with CPR training. Everyone had their own practice manikin with a bright blue foam body and plastic head that tilted back to the correct angle. A plastic bag "lung" inside the body rose when we blew into the manikin's mouth. The instructor used a DVD presentation, stopping it occasionally to let us practice the steps. After we completed the training on adult and child CPR, we used the manikin to practice the Heimlich maneuver.
Following a short break we moved into the AED training. I learned that an AED helps to restart a normal heart rhythm when it goes into Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Again, there was a video to watch, then the instructor brought out a Non-Shocking AED unit to show us what it was like. We paired off to try it on a manikin, and I thought it was very easy to use. One person performed the CPR portion, and the other one worked with the machine itself. Two pads are placed on the patient's chest and connected to the AED. A computer inside the machine analyzes the patient's heart rhythm and determines if a shock is required. If a shock is required, the AED uses voice instructions to guide the user through the required steps.
It was lunchtime by this point, so we took another break and enjoyed the great food that the director was nice enough to order in for everyone. Stomachs full, we went back to the room for a short first aid training. The instructor answered our questions, gave us our certification cards, and told us we were free to go.
Hopefully, I'll never have to use any of the skills I acquired today, but if an emergency strikes I'll be ready.